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Funds Could Help CPS' Pandemic Budget Issues Going Forward

Ambriehl Crutchfield

Cincinnati Public Schools has received at least five grants totaling $24.2 million to help with funds during the pandemic.

During a finance committee meeting Monday, it was said CPS received $20 million from the first round of CARES Act funding, which must be spent by September 2022. Funds from the COVID Relief Fund total $2.2 million. Hamilton County also provided $1.2 million from CARES Act funds dispersed throughout the county's schools.

At least $93 million in funds from the U.S. Department of Education will also go to CPS and that has to be spent by September 2023. However, the district can't spend money from those funds until it spends all of the money from the first round of CARES Act funds. Ohio received nearly $2 billion from the department's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Treasurer Jennifer Wagner said they will be focusing on funding summer recovery, as well as possibly investing in technology for concurrent learning. Last October, it was estimated that it would cost $10 million to improve the district's network to allow for streaming in every class.

During a budget committee meeting in February, board members raised concerns about enrollment affecting the district's finances. Lower enrollment could lead to significant layoffs. Board Member Melanie Bates says the board caused an "exodus," alluding to the board's back-and-forth decisions on blended and full remote learning that are believed to have led to a potential decrease in enrollments.

During that same February meeting, Budget Committee Chair and Board Member Eve Bolton said they need to have a plan that promises the community that CPS will return to classrooms for the fourth quarter and next year.

In July 2020, 179 positions were reduced due to budget constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last October, it was revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic cost CPS more than $42 million dollars.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.